School Tax dollar waste

Discussion in 'Budget Board' started by JamesMom, May 24, 2010.

  1. JamesMom

    JamesMom DIS Veteran

    Aug 27, 2004
    My DS7 just got home from school. There are only 8 days left so the teacher sent home workbooks in his backpack. Silly me, I thought they actually used them in the classroom, but no. There are four sizable workbooks (200+ pages) and there isn't a mark in them outside of my son's name!

    I can only imagine what these books cost the school and multiply that by the twenty students in his class and the number of classes... I am surprised at the waste.

    All grade classes follow the same curriculum so why did they order, and subsequently, waste all these books? I could use them to supplement his summer work (book I had already purchaed), but there is no way he can complete 700+ pages of material over the summer.

    These books were for reading, spelling vocabulary. I can only imagine how many more books will be sent home for math, science and the like.
  2. Colleen27

    Colleen27 DIS Veteran

    Mar 31, 2007
    It might not actually be wasted money. We've had teachers over the years clear out samples of unadopted materials by sending them home with interested students at the end of the year. We've also gotten unused workbooks home that were sold as a package with texts that were used in class (with no option to order texts without the accompanying workbooks, or in one particularly odd case, where the texts alone would have cost more than the text/workbook package). And one year, DS had a teacher that won a grant to provide summer enrichment material for her students.

    If the school paid extra for the workbooks they're obviously a waste, but that may not actually be the case.
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  4. scrapquitler

    scrapquitler DIS Veteran

    Aug 15, 2007
    Is it possible that these workbooks are the result of some kind of "keep kids learning over the summer" type grant? maybe they were intended specifically for use during the summer. Or maybe as a previous poster said, they were some sort of samples provided by a publisher.
  5. stm61

    stm61 DIS Veteran

    Mar 3, 2004
    it could be that the district has reused workbooks for several years. The kids put their answers on paper, instead of writing in the book. Now the school is going to use a new book next year, so they're sending home what won't be used again. I've had that happen several years.
  6. crisi

    crisi DIS Veteran

    Feb 25, 2002
    We had one year where we called the teacher - my kid was supposed to be working on his workbook for practice, but wasn't. Since they didn't turn in homework and he was doing fine on the daily quizzes - neither her nor I realized it wasn't getting done.
  7. MrsPete

    MrsPete DIS Veteran

    Feb 24, 2002
    I was going to say something similar. People outside the education system don't know the "ins and outs" of textbook adoptions, but here are a couple trends we've been seeing over the last few years:

    Expensive books with freebies. This is what I suspect your son's school has. My textbooks, for example, are outrageously expensive -- they're around $70 each -- but for each English textbook my school bought, we were allowed to choose two hardcover novels, one heavy paperback play, and two consumable workbooks. We "adopt" the books from a specific publisher for a five-year timeperiod, and the publisher provides us with those consumable workbooks every year. We get to choose from a list of workbooks, which includes vocabulary, test prep books, grammar, and reader workbooks. We have the option to take some of our workbooks in Spanish, and we can choose to take some of our books in -- for lack of a better term -- super simple versions (these, of course, are for our lower-level students). Whatever we choose on our adoption year, we're going to get for the next five years -- we cannot choose vocabulary books this year and switch to writing books next year. (So if we buy 300 9th grade English textbooks, we could receive 300 grammar workbooks and 300 vocabulary workbooks every fall.)

    We cannot negotiate a lower price by skipping the workbooks -- the textbooks cost the same $70 whether we take the workbooks or don't take the workbooks.

    And if the teacher doesn't use the workbooks, which aren't that great, they're sitting around school taking up space. If a teacher LOVES the vocabulary books, but she leaves the school two years into the textbook adoption, well, you'd better hope that her replacement didn't want the grammar workbooks instead because they're going to be piled in her classroom every August.

    I know what you're going to say: Why don't schools buy from a company that doesn't play this game? Why don't we buy from a company that JUST SELLS TEXTBOOKS and allows us to buy individual novel sets, etc.? Simple: All the big companies are doing the same things these days. They know there's profit in selling a whole package.

    We also get so much teacher stuff along with the books that no one could ever go through it all, much less actually use it: Fine arts transparancies, writing starter videos, DOL (Daily Oral Language).

    Speaking only for myself, I love the novels that come with the textbook. They're good quality books that hold up well, though I wish we had more modern authors from which to choose. The options we have available are largely old stuff that's copywrite free.

    Another trend:

    Textbook makers super-sizing their books. The page margins are getting larger, most pages include color pictures or borders, and this means less text on each page. Lengthy introductions, questions at the end of each story, multi-cultural references and biographies fill the books. The books are growing larger, yet there's less material in them.

    Sadly, our children ARE conditioned to consider something "pretty" of greater value than something printed in simple black and white.

    Another trend:

    Textbooks on disks so that the school can just buy a CLASS SET of textbooks for each teacher's classroom, and each student gets a CD to tote home. An alternative is a code for each student to access the book online. In my experience, these things give students an excuse NOT to do their work at home: They didn't get a turn on the computer, or they couldn't access the textbook last night (my own daughter has found that her science textbook is available sometimes and not available other times; it's maddening). My other daugther is uber-paranoid about her CD disk because her teacher told her that if she loses or damages the CD or its case, it'll cost her $$$$$$$$$$. These systems need refining.
  8. NVDisMom

    NVDisMom <font color=green>I love to read aloud<br><font co

    Mar 12, 2007
    We have received these work books in the past as well, again, completely empty. I too found it maddening thinking of how those funds could have been used more effectively. In Nevada, our legislature made it law that we had to buy new text books EVERY YEAR. So, for a while we were getting these workbooks every year. With the current budget crisis, the legislature decided to temporarily repeal the every year purchases, so I am assuming we probably will not see the workbooks come home in the next couple of weeks.

    Personally, I believe it is time for the school districts to put a halt to these tactics that the text book publishers are implementing. The publishers are taking advantage of tax payer dollars that could be used more effectively to further the education of our children instead of lining their pockets. Profits are a good thing for any private company, and I do not begrudge the publishers for trying to maximize their profits. I see it as an issue with the school districts not negotiating for better deals that are more in line with their actual needs. The school districts are the consumers in this case and their needs should dictate what the publishers produce for them, not the other way around.

    As for the online textbook sites and texts on cd's...My opinion is split. I like the idea of the potential for ease of use, ease of updating the material as necessary for mistakes or edition changes, etc. I like the fact that the kids are no longer responsible for a text printed on paper that can easily be ruined in any number of scenarios, both innocent and not. I think there are a number of positive attributes to these. BUT, there are also some negatives. Access to a computer is not a guarantee in every home. Lack of a computer altogether, lack of enough computers for the household to utilize for assignments, outdated computers that are not supported, internet connectivity issues, privacy concerns, printer costs...the list of potential obstacles is almost never ending. And yet, from what I understand, access to the online or cd versions cost the school district just as much as the printed versions on an annual basis. My eldest dd has her science text available online. We have had more issues with access than I care to count (passwords, server timeouts, and limited connectivity of our dsl, after installing all new drivers and some program or another to make it work with my three year old computer) and the teacher is anything but understanding. I can't imagine how she must make a student feel who doesn't have the capability to utilize it.

    I'm beginning to think we need to do a cost analysis of giving each student a computer (or kindle type thing) with the curriculum, texts and supporting materials preloaded for their use in place of text books. Tell the text publishers to take a hike and encourage the individual school districts to make the computer companies fight for their business. I know that scenario comes with its own issues too.
  9. Whistle

    Whistle Mouseketeer

    May 8, 2009
    I know here in VA when we adopt a textbook series, the "consummable workbooks" are included as long as the book is being used (in the current adoption period- usually 5 to 7 years). As teachers we have tried NOT to get them (b/c often they just do NOT meet the needs of our students) but there is no price difference to not have them. They must come-- so, rather than tossing them, they can be sent with students.

    I agree, they are being paid for somewhere (in the price of the high textbook) and are not utilized like they could be. I wish we had a choice in the matter!
  10. seashoreCM

    seashoreCM All around nice guy.

    Aug 25, 2001
    Could you burn a copy of the CD and put away the original for safekeeping?

    Before they invented (music on) CD's, "serious hifi nuts" would copy their LP records onto tapes and just play the tapes as desired. Then make another copy if the first copy wore out.

    Disney hints:
  11. MrsPete

    MrsPete DIS Veteran

    Feb 24, 2002
    In theory, I agree with you about textbook publishing options, but in reality it's harder than that -- and remember, we're not entirely against the system. We really do want the novels; it's just the overly-juvenile workbooks that we don't want. We're legally required to have textbooks, and if the companies aren't offering just that option, we're stuck. I also know that if I were designing a textbook, it would be very different from what's available for us to buy today: I'd like to have a physically smaller textbook without loads of assignments at the back of each story (I can make those up myself and put them on overhead transparencies), I'd cut out about half the color and photographs, and I'd include more current material, especially some things that're high interest/low ability reading.

    You've summed up the pros and cons of online textbooks well. Lack of computer usage, etc. is a big problem. And my own daugther, who has access to a computer any time and who has help from two college-educated parents has had trouble getting onto the science-book website. The passwords work one day and don't work the next day. This concept has great potential, but it has a long way to go.

    I wonder if a netbook or a Kindle type thing is the ultimate answer to the textbook issue. But then you still have issues: It'd be more steal-able, very easy to break (and then what about the kids who can't afford to replace it?), and there's the potential for great time abuse with texting/emailing in class.
    Thought of it . . . no. My daughter, who is better with tech-y things than I am, says it's got some type of protection on it. Think about it: If you were the publisher, wouldn't you put something like that on the CD? After all, if the disks could be copied, why would any school ever buy more than a handful of disks?

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